Cooking with kids is great project that not only employs the science of food, but vocabulary, history, and some tasty fun! As a teacher I used the Thanksgiving holiday to talk about families and traditions. We also talked about the history some of those traditions, like using butter. How do we get butter? What is it made of? Great discussions while waiting for the process.
So just how do you make butter? Read on!
What you need:
- 1 small baby food jar per child – make sure it is clearly labeled with their name
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream per child
- Small pinch of salt (optional)
How to Do it:
Put the cream in the baby food jar with the salt. Mark the 1/4 cup measure on the outside of the jar and the child can then pour the cream in themselves. I’d suggest careful supervision on the salt!
Allow each child to shake, shake, shake – and shake come more! It takes about 20 minutes for the butter to form. Sing some Thanksgiving songs – dance to the rhythm of the shaking – talk about what might be happening inside the little jar….
and then, open the jar and there you have it! Homemade butter! And while you enjoy eating it – talk about what happened.
So what is the science? When cows are milked the cream and milk separate and the cream is skimmed off (when it’s all skimmed the remaining, nonfat milk, is called skim milk). In the cream that is removed are globs of fat and protein. When you shake the cream, those molecules are smashed together until the stick onto each other and a solid is formed from the liquid – the butter. The two molecules are “emulsified” into the solid compound. The watery milk that is left is called buttermilk. And the buttery solid is that delicious creamy substance that tastes so good spread on bread or a cracker! Don’t be afraid to used those scientific terms! The kids may not remember them today, but one day they’ll say – Hey, I’ve heard of that before! You’re planting seeds of knowledge to enjoy with a little butter.
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